Wednesday, April 9, 2014
Super Mario and Donkey Kong are among the video game characters being celebrated at Norwich’s first ever festival of gaming.
Organisers hope more than 30,000 people will visit the spectacular at the Forum before its 10-day run concludes on April 16.
And for its duration the show space has become a shrine for all things computer games – from retro arcade machines, to concept art by game design students to competitions to create the best game.
Co-organiser James Coates said a popular exhibition called Retro Arcade – where visitors can play classics like Pacman for free – had run at the Forum for the last four years, and this year they wanted to take it to the next level.
It has ballooned from one to six of the Forum’s exhibition spaces, and aims to show off Norwich’s fluorishing gaming industry.
“We wanted to expand it a little bit and do more for people who might not normally be interested in a gaming event,” said Mr Coates. “It’s something families can bring their kids to and hopefully this year they will learn something.”
There are free film showings, art work, face painting and on Sunday there will be a giant Formula One car simulator and a stunt plane simulator.
And – like every year – people can try their hand at all manner of computer games for free.
Organisers have also worked closely with independent games developer Alastair Aitchison and Norwich University of the Arts (NUA) games design course leader Robin Silcock to help explain how games are made.
10am - Minecraft lounge launch in The Curve. Experience Norfolk as a fully-playable Minecraft world.
Midday - 3pm - Facepainting in the Atrium. Get painted as your favourite computer game character.
2pm - Developer talk with Tom Hegarty in The Curve. Tom will describe the making of his game Olli Olli and talk about his studio’s next project.
7pm - Dorkbot Anglia: Hacking the System in The Curve. An event welcoming speakers who describe some innovative gaming “hacks” they have created.
All day 10am - 4pm - GAME junior activities, Retro Arcade, Indie Games, Minecraft Lounge, game art exhibition
Co-organiser Danny McIlwrath said: “There’s a huge industry in this region with games design, from graphics to the music to creating the games themselves.
“It shows their work to people who ordinarily wouldn’t get to see it.
“It shows the building blocks of how to make a game.
“The games industry is one of our most valuable exports and there’s a lot of opportunities in Norwich.”
He said he hoped people would be inspired to try creating games, and as part of this there was a games jam competition – with prizes of up to £4,000 in computer software.
He hoped the festival, supported by shops including GAME and Richer Sounds, would become part of the Norwich calendar
Elizabeth Humpries, 36 of Norwich, brought her two children Joshua, six, and Madeleine, two, to the festival after seeing adverts.
She said: “I knew Josh would love it. We’ve limited him to an hour – he’ll want to play all the games.”
Brendan Heenan, 45, of Stanhoe, was at the festival with his twin children James and Alice, both aged eight
He said: “We popped up as their two sisters are shopping with their mum.
“I didn’t realise this was here, but I like that there’s the older games for my generation and there are the newer ones too.
“It’s a brilliant facility here. The variety is really good.”
A team of more than 30 volunteers are helping to run the festival, and local game designers including BAFTA-winning Sophia George, of Runham, will be giving talks over the week.
Later this week gamers will be able to explore a computer game version of Norwich, specially rendered in Minecraft, and next week there is a board games evening – looking at the crossover with video games.
For more about the festival, see www.norwichgamingfestival.wordpress.com.
What did you think of the festival? Write to firstname.lastname@example.org